Polaris Process

I’ve been spending most of my working hours in recent weeks plugging away at editing together the rough assembly of STARSHIP POLARIS and it’s already been an interesting learning process. As of Friday the 24th I’ve actually completed a slightly polished rough assembly (how’s that for a contradictory term?) of the first 16 scenes of Polaris comprising roughly the first eight minutes of the show.

The process of getting to this point has been an education.

Oh, sure, I’ve been doing video editing on my own projects for a few years now, and also on the final section of another film that was basically abandoned by its producer, but none of those projects individually has been very big. In the case of my own work it’s because they’ve all been less than 10 minutes long, and in the other case because it’s only the last 20% of a larger show.  In the case of POLARIS. I essentially got the raw footage (already transcoded) and the separate raw audio and had to build the entire project pretty much from scratch. This has meant doing tons of file renaming to make sure all the footage and audio files maintain a consistent naming convention and  then running the video and audio through a program (DualEyes) that figures out how the second sound lines up with the sound recorded by the camera and replaces the latter with the former, and even how to fix audio files with a bad channel and manually syncing the sound to picture on a few shots where no automated solution worked.

Dr. Valerie Young reacts with bemusement to Captain Paul Fredericks's skepticism.

Even after all that there’s still the process of importing all the footage into Final Cut Pro and logging it. This means going one file at a time and tagging it for the Scene number (say 72A-A as seen on the slate), the take number, who’s in it, what the angle is, etc. This for for literally hundreds of files. To complicate matters, in some cases we did rolling takes where a file slated as take 1 might actual include five runthroughs of the same bit of action or dialog.

As part of this process I had to work out a system that would let me find things easily when editing. By getting all the scene numbers logged I can sort clips in the Browser by the Scene column to see all the clips in more or less the order they happen in the story. But sometimes I’m looking for shots of a given character from a different scene (say I want to steal a reaction from a shot not part of the current scene, or we covered a bunch of different scenes in one setup), so I sort by the Description column, which now contains the name or initials of all the characters in a given scene, so all the files containing that character get listed together. Additional comments columns are used to note which takes are shot MOS, have only camera sound, or contain defects or interesting accidents. Sorting by these columns further makes it possible to find what I’m after quickly.

It’s a virtual certainly that there are even better ways to do all of this, and it’s equally certain I’ll slap myself in the forehead once I realize my “easy” way may be a “hard” way.

But that’s the fun of learning, ain’t it?

And, no, I don’t mean the self abuse.


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